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Coronavirus update 18th Feb 2021

Latest guidance

Map of local authority boundaries in the Pentland Hills Regional Park

ABOVE - RED LINE IS PARK BOUNDARY, BLACK LINES ARE LOCAL AUTHORITY BOUNDARIES

 

Government stay-at-home advice: Level 4 areas

The Pentland Hills Regional Park is covered by three different local authorities: City of Edinburgh, Midlothian, and West Lothian. The Regional Park bounds the Scottish Borders to the south. All LA areas in this area are currently in Level 4.

Government advice is that "To minimise the risk of spreading the virus, you must stay at home as much as possible.  By law, in a level 4 area, you can only leave your home (or garden) for an essential purpose". You can read more here about Government stay-at-home guidance here

We strongly encourage you to think about exercising closer to home, and not travelling to the Regional Park from the City of Edinburgh or other surrounding urban areas in the current period, due to 1) current advice to stay at home as much as possible 2) the risk of crowds gathering / bad parking limiting access for emergency services and farm machinery 3) the amazing choice of parkland within the City of Edinburgh and surrounding towns where exercise can safely be undergone in a physically-distanced manner 4) risk of conflict between increased numbers of recreational users and livestock / wildlife.

There are limited exceptions to the stay-at-home advice. You can partake in "local outdoor informal exercise such as walking, cycling, golf, or running (in groups of up to 2 people, plus any children under 12, from no more than 2 households). Exercise can start and finish [at] a place in your local authority area (or up to 5 miles from the boundary of your local authority area), but you should travel no further than you need to reach a safe, non-crowded place to exercise in a physically distanced way."  Read more Government guidance on travel and transport here.

Camping is not permitted: it is a legal requirement to stay at home except for permitted reasons.

 

Meeting socially outdoors

The maximum number of people who can meet outdoors is two, from up to two separate households. This means you can only meet one other person from another household outdoors. Children under 12 do not count towards the total number of people permitted to gather outdoors.

 

Explore your local greenspaces

We know the Pentlands are a fantastic resource for exercise and getting away from it all. Under the current guidance we’re being asked to stay local again. It is likely that the car parks will be under a lot of pressure. If you haven’t already discovered the wealth of outdoor space in your local area please use the links below to discover what parks, woodlands, waterways, walks and cycle ways are close to you:

Edinburgh:

Parks and Greenspace www.edinburghoutdoors.org.uk/

Walking and cycling www.edinburgh.gov.uk/cycling-walking

Check out this map of Edinburgh's parks.

Midlothian:

Parks and Greenspace www.midlothian.gov.uk/directory/7/parks/category/19

Walking and cycling www.midlothian.gov.uk/info/200226/walking_and_cycling

West Lothian:

Parks and Greenspace www.westlothian.gov.uk/parks-and-woodland

Walking and cycling www.westlothian.gov.uk/walks-in-west-lothian www.westlothian.gov.uk/cycling

 

Outdoor access during COVID-19

The current guidance in relation to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code for COVID-19 is:

  • Maintain your distance – please stay at least 2 metres away from other people and if possible, try to avoid busy times on popular paths or places.
  • Respect the health and safety of farmers and others working the land – please follow all reasonable requests and signs to avoid particular areas, such as farmyards, fields with pregnant or young livestock, and other busy working areas.
  • Keep your dog under control – please put them on a lead or keep them close at heel and do not let them approach other people or livestock. We have had disturbing reports of dog attacks on sheep recently. Be aware that land managers can shoot dogs harassing sheep.
  • Avoid contact – try to avoid touching surfaces and if possible, plan a route that does not require you to open gates.

For full details read the Scottish Outdoor Access Code for COVID-19 here.

 

FAQs (the below FAQs refer to individuals exercising outdoors, with or without companions. Different regulations apply to organised groups.)

Q. I would like to travel from Leith to Flotterstone to walk my dog. Can I do this?

A. While travel within and up to five miles from the boundary of your local authority area for the purpose of exercise is allowed, the Scottish Government guidance emphasises that you should travel no further than you need to reach a safe, non-crowded place to exercise in a physically distanced way. Flotterstone is less than five miles from the CEC boundary, and travelling for exercise is one of the exemptions. However, you should be aware that 1) Flotterstone car park can be extremely busy 2) there are ample areas to walk dogs closer to home (see above), 3) Flotterstone is a crucial area for sheep farming and there have been numerous reports in recent weeks of dogs worrying sheep, with owners subsequently being charged. Flotterstone is not an ideal place to walk your dog due to the number of sheep in the area. Scottish Government guidance is to travel no further than you need to reach a safe, non-crowded place to exercise - there are several parks in Leith which are ideal for dog walking.

 

Q. I would like to meet up with three adult friends from two different households to go for a run in Bonaly Country Park. Can I do this?

A. No. If your three friends live in two different households, and you are in a third one, that is not permitted under current guidance. You can only meet one person from one other household (plus any children under 12).

 

Q. I would like to run all the main hills in the Pentlands in a single day, starting and finishing at Carlops (Scottish Borders). I live in Roslin (Midlothian). Can I do this?

A. While travel within and up to five miles from the boundary of your local authority area for the purpose of exercise is allowed, the Scottish Government guidance emphasises that you should travel no further than you need to reach a safe, non-crowded place to exercise in a physically distanced way.  Carlops is less than a mile over the border from Midlothian. However, travel is strongly discouraged. We are being asked to travel no further than we need to access a safe, non-crowded place to exercise. Roslin has several appropriate greenspaces. If undertaking such a run in the Pentland Hills you should be fully trained in / have experience of surviving adverse mountain conditions: we are being asked not to put our emergency services under strain.

 

Q. I live near Kirknewton (West Lothian), and would like to travel to Little Vantage (also West Lothian) to go for my daily walk. Can I do this?

A. While travel within and up to five miles from the boundary of your local authority area for the purpose of exercise is allowed, the Scottish Government guidance emphasises that you should travel no further than you need to reach a safe, non-crowded place to exercise in a physically distanced way. We are being asked to keep journeys within the area to an absolute minimum. It would be unlikely to be acceptable to drive to go for a walk on a daily basis. Kirknewton has several walks nearby which are easily accessible without driving.

 

Q. I'm looking forward to visiting the Pentland Hills with my family on Saturday, and am planning to drive to Harlaw car park from the City centre. Can I do this?

A. While travel within and up to five miles from the boundary of your local authority area for the purpose of exercise is allowed, the Scottish Government guidance emphasises that you should travel no further than you need to reach a safe, non-crowded place to exercise in a physically distanced way. Please research green spaces closer to your home (see above): Edinburgh is lucky to have more green space than any other equivalent city of its size. Check out this map of Edinburgh's parks. Please also be aware that our car parks are generally full after 9am on weekend days.

Published: 18th February 2021